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PRESS CONFERENCE ON SUDAN BY PRESIDENT OF SLOVENIA

Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York

18 January 2006

One week after announcing plans to visit Sudan in February to deliver a humanitarian aid package for 10,000 victims of atrocities in the western region of Darfur, Slovene President Janez Drnovsek, during a news conference at Headquarters this afternoon, implored other Governments, including China, to send troops and enhance aid to the war-ravaged African nation.

“The World for Darfur” initiative, sponsored by the Slovene Government and Slovene humanitarian organizations, intended to provide shelter, water, food and schools for 10,000 Sudanese, as well as a field hospital and demining equipment, President Drnovsek said. It also aimed to generate greater awareness about the crisis, encourage other humanitarian organizations to send aid and rally famous personalities in sports, music and the film industry worldwide to support the cause, as well as pressure political leaders to bring a swift, peaceful resolution to the conflict. President Drnovsek also proposed holding a peace conference in February on the situation in Darfur.

Sudan’s three-year long conflict in the western region of Darfur had caused many deaths and injuries, and had left an estimated 3 million people displaced, he said. Widespread hunger, battered infrastructure and conflicts with neighbouring Chad had exacerbated the humanitarian crisis in the country of 6 million people.

The President said that while Slovenia’s aid package was modest, his efforts and more like them were necessary to spur ceasefire negotiations among the warring Sudanese factions and prevent further genocide. “I know the (United Nations) Secretary-General has been trying for months to get more decisive action from the Security Council, but without too much success. That’s why he needs help from me, from you, from everybody”, he said, adding that small countries like Slovenia without geopolitical interests in Sudan could perhaps be of greater help than other nations in resolving the conflict.

President Drnovsek met earlier in the day with United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and on Tuesday with France’s delegate to the Security Council to discuss his proposals, and has contacted other European leaders. He said he planned to meet in Sudan with the Sudanese President in mid-February and had requested a meeting with Chad’s President. The Chinese Government, he said, had yet to respond to his proposal for assistance to Darfur.

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For information media • not an official record



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